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If you think remodeling a room or updating different parts of your home is worth the time and investment, you’re not the only one. According to a report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, Americans spend $400 billion annually on home improvements and repairs.
This is a huge amount of money, but that doesn’t mean you have to shell out loads of cash as you’re prepping your home to sell. In fact, spending too much on upgrades before you sell could be one of the more common money mistakes homeowners make.
Instead, consider this list of 15 easy ways to increase your home’s value before putting it on the market. And if you’re wondering about how to pay for these home improvements, we’ve included helpful tips after the list.
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1. Brighten up the place
Buyers need to visualize what their home will look like once all their furniture is moved in. This can prove difficult if it’s literally hard to see in the house because of the lighting. Your lighting can be affected by the color of the paint in the room and how much natural light is brought in through windows.
If you want to brighten up areas, consider simply opening up curtains and blinds to let the natural light flow. Also, don’t be afraid to repaint the walls to present a more pleasant visual for a prospective buyer. If they can imagine themselves living there, they’re more likely to meet the price you’re looking for.
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2. Check your appliances
It’s likely a good idea to replace any appliances that are on their last legs and staying in your home when you sell it. But if your appliances are functioning well, it might not make sense to potentially spend thousands of dollars to replace them, as you might not get that money back from the sale.
Check your appliances for dings, dents, and other visual flaws. Instead of replacing the entire appliance, save money by replacing just the door or a panel so it looks new and doesn’t potentially distract someone looking at your home.
For example, replacing the front panel on your dishwasher instead of the entire dishwasher could save you hundreds of dollars.
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3. Clean up
First impressions are important, which means your house should be spotless when someone is seeing it for the first time. Fortunately, it doesn’t cost much for you to clean things yourself. But you might want to go deeper than normal, considering there could be tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line.
If you don’t feel like you have the necessary tools or time to give your house a deep clean, consider hiring a cleaning service. Professional cleaners could cost you a few hundred dollars depending on the services you want, but this small investment could easily pay off when potential buyers feel comfortable in your home and can recognize how well it’s been taken care of.
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4. Fix the roof
The 2019 Remodeling Impact Report from the National Association of Realtors found that 33% of people said new roofing helped close the sale of their house. In addition, it was cost-effective to do this home improvement, as sellers recouped an estimated 107% value from the project.
This might not seem like the easiest task, but it’s likely worth it for your home’s value if your roof is in disrepair or needs some work done. If you’re not comfortable buying the materials and fixing the roof yourself, consider going with a local roofing company. Nothing’s quite as easy as paying a professional to get the job done.
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5. Get an inspection
A home inspection can typically run you a few hundred dollars but may vary depending on the size of the home and other factors. It may seem counterintuitive to do a home inspection because you don’t want to uncover expensive issues. But revealing the issues now can help you focus on the smartest places to use your money.
If you end up fixing anything from a result of the home inspection, you could potentially increase the listing price of your home. This is because you’ve added value to the home and there’s less for a potential buyer to worry about.
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6. Get organized
It’s important to make sure rooms are clutter-free and organized. This helps present the best possible visual of your home when potential buyers walk through. And if you can make the buyer happy with what they see, it likely means better things for your home’s value. In addition, it doesn’t take much time or effort to organize your home.
Look for ways to declutter and neutralize areas by removing personal effects. Minimizing the objects in each room is key, so take things off counters and tables that don’t need to be there. And don’t forget about organizing less-seen spaces, such as closets or garages, as no detail is too small when it comes to selling your home.
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7. Keep up the yard
Before a buyer ever gets inside your home, they’re going to see your yard. Many types of lawn maintenance don’t necessarily take much time, but you don’t want to leave things up to the imagination of a potential buyer. If they don’t like what they see before walking into the home, it starts the visit off on the wrong foot. They might think the home is worth less.
To help avoid this situation, keep your lawn in pristine condition. Mow the grass, trim bushes and trees, and possibly even spruce up walkways with potted plants or something similar. It shouldn’t take too much time or money to get your lawn looking nice unless it’s been badly neglected.
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8. Open up the space
If you want to increase your square footage without actually increasing your square footage, consider carefully selecting and placing furniture in a way that makes rooms seem bigger. If you have a designer’s eye, you can save money and do this yourself. If not, hiring a professional to help stage your home before listing it could be a good idea.
This can help buyers see the potential in your home and feel like it’s worth it for them to consider buying it. It’s more difficult to imagine what a room could look like if it seems cramped or disorganized. If it’s feasible, literally opening up a space around the living room or kitchen areas could be the ideal solution for an open-floor design. But check with a professional to see whether it would make sense financially and structurally to knock down a wall or something similar.
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9. Liven up the bathroom
A full bathroom remodel can cost thousands of dollars, and it’s hard to say whether you’d see much of a return on your investment, as it depends on the market and each specific buyer. But it likely still makes sense to spruce up your bathrooms just in case.
Inexpensive and easy solutions can include replacing an old toilet seat, changing a light fixture or faucet, and putting in a fresh shower curtain or rug. These tasks shouldn’t take much time and won’t break the bank, but they can help make a bathroom look nicer and more inviting. Because a lot of your home’s value is based on perception, it’s best to positively impact the perception of potential buyers as much as possible.
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10. Maintain home systems
Your home’s systems — like the air conditioning, heating, and electrical systems — are vital parts, but they can be expensive to repair or replace. If you don’t want to end up with an expensive overhaul of a system right before selling your home, make sure everything is regularly maintained.
This could include replacing air filters throughout the house, getting your ducts cleaned frequently, and checking for any leaks in the plumbing. Some of these checkups are simple and don’t cost a thing, whereas others could require some professional help. But paying $100 or less every now and then could save you thousands of dollars in the future if a buyer wants something major replaced.
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11. Make your home smart
A few key smart pieces of technology throughout the home can help leave a good impression on potential buyers and possibly increase your home’s value. This may include smart locks, smart thermostats, smart garage door openers, smart lighting and more.
These different smart devices can range in price depending on brand and type, with some costing more than others. They’re typically not the least expensive purchases you’ll make, but they’re often easy to install yourself and offer homeowners a lot of functionality.
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12. Take high-quality photos
Before selling your home, make sure you have high-quality photos that make each room and area look amazing. This may not necessarily increase your list price, but it can help increase the perceived value of your home and general interest from buyers. If they like what they see online, they’ll be more likely to schedule a visit.
You can take photos yourself, but hiring a professional photographer is likely the way to go. This helps to increase your chances of selling your home quicker and for more money, so the photographer fee could be more than worth it.
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13. Update the paint
Repainting your home, whether on the interior or exterior, is helpful for maintenance, but it’s also a quick way to add value before you sell. The best paint colors to sell a house may vary depending on where you live and even by the room in the house, so it’s best to research the local market and possibly chat with your real estate agent about it.
Getting paint and paint supplies isn’t typically too expensive and this is a task you can do on your own. However, it could be worth it to pay for some professional help if the cost isn’t too high and it’s likely to drastically change the appearance and feel of your home for the better.
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14. Upgrade the kitchen
You don’t need to spring for the high-end marble countertops to get a more updated look in your kitchen. Instead, consider inexpensive and easy changes that can positively affect how someone views the area. This could include painting the cabinets a different color or going with a different color scheme on handles and faucets.
These simple adjustments shouldn’t take much time and don’t necessarily require professional help. And if they make buyers feel more comfortable in the home, the small price is worth the value added.
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15. Up your square footage
You might not have many options for increasing the square footage of your home, but if you do, it’s something to consider. This could include finishing your basement or adding a bedroom or bathroom.
These might not be the quickest home improvements on the list, but simply having more square feet in your home is likely to increase its value. It could also attract attention from more buyers who wanted just one more bedroom or bathroom.
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How to pay for home improvements
If you know how to get a loan or credit card, you already know about a few different options for funding your home improvements. Here are three common options that could help you pay for work on your house:
- HELOC: Many of the best mortgage lenders offer HELOCs, or home equity lines of credit. A HELOC is secured by the equity you have in your home and the amount of available credit is replenished as you pay off your balance. This works similarly to a credit card, which makes it easy to get the money you need for home repairs or improvements on a project-by-project basis.
- 0% APR credit card: A 0% APR credit card can help you make the purchases you need for home improvements without accruing interest for a certain period of time, which could be 12 months, 15 months, or more. This can give you time to add value to your home without the added interest cost.
- Personal loan: The best personal loans can help you get the funds you need, whether it’s for large home improvements or small ones. You can choose from a wide range of financial products, including loans suited for different levels of credit.
Keep in mind that taking out a loan or getting a new credit card typically triggers a hard inquiry to your credit report, which can temporarily lower your credit score. Mortgage rates are affected by your credit, which means a higher credit score could get you a lower interest rate. So if you’re planning on getting a new mortgage after selling your current home, be sure to wait until your credit has recovered from any loans or other types of credit you’ve applied for.
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You have multiple options for adding value to your house before selling it, including many that aren’t too expensive or complicated. This makes it easier for you to potentially earn more money from the sale of your home without having to break the bank.
But keep in mind that not every strategy is guaranteed to make you more money, and some methods could take more effort than others. Remember to consider all the strategies and decide which ones would make the most sense for your situation.
If you already have certain skills, it could be easier for you to do specific things, such as repaint rooms or take high-quality photos yourself. And if you’ve studied up on how to finance home improvement projects, you might be able to hire professionals to handle the rest.
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